Title: Harveste Addams and the Half-Blood Prince
Crossover: Harry Potter and the Addams Family
Summary: Deception, disorder, distraction and devotion. Don't forget the jam, darlings.
Warning: Addams Family Sadism and Cross-dressing, Slash and Het, also loads of swearing. It's Azkaban, what do you expect?
Lucius had known that Harveste Addams was a cross-dresser, a fact with which he was completely at ease. Both witches and wizards were accustomed to wearing robes after all. As his grandfather used to say, it was not the manner of the clothes that were worn, but the character of the wearer that made a man. He liked to think himself fairly open-minded, considering the circumstances and providing his previous beliefs could be overturned by rational explanation, hours of tedious discourse, or a really big hammer. Why, he had even accepted the rumor of Aberforth’s idiosyncrasy in stride, though he had felt pity for the goats.
There was one idea he was quite defiantly against, though, and that was the idea of HIM in female clothing. Lucius Malfoy was not a cross-dresser, had never even had the slightest desire to venture down that path, no matter how similar dress robes and skirts were.
Apparently, his wife and Syrena Zabini thought differently.
Lucius was hard-pressed to just stand stoically by while Syrena, armed with an axe and her ever-present cleaver, subdued whatever was living in the young Addam's closet so they could get at the clothes within. Narcissa, his dignified and haughtily pureblood wife, was busily laying out what he could only term as 'delicates'.
"Will someone tell me why I must go so far as to actually wear these... these..." Lucius made a face as he saw something as flimsy as a spider-web being put next to a pair of lacy garters. "These things?"
"Because the glamour you have been using will not work with Alastor so close by." Narcissa sighed for the hundredth time. "His eye will see through it, and he will question why Harveste Addams would need such a thing. Surely you had considered that you might have to wear feminine clothes while masquerading as our Draco's friend?"
"No, I did not.” He said stiffly. “The glamour was working perfectly well. If Gomez had not invited those Aurors to stay-"
"They were being savaged by the octopus. And the plants. And the butterflies." Narcissa suppressed a shudder. She would never look at swallowtails the same way again.
"Nevertheless, I do not see why -"
Syrena stumbled out of the closet, pushed by an unseen being. The raptor-yellow eyes narrowed, and she walked right back inside. There was a sound of meat being hacked and a pained yowl. The Black Widow stepped away from the depths of the closet, shaking her finger sternly at something.
"Let that be a reminder to never raise a claw to a lady again!"
The Black Widow was as composed as ever, barring a few curls that had escaped her chignon, a tear or two on her dress, and a spatter of what looked like greenish slime over her left cheek. When she stepped aside to show them the interior of the wardrobe, Lucius got the impression that shadows had just melted away in time, and he could see why. Syrena's smile was just a little bit too eager.
"Now, Lucius, don't be difficult. Just pick an outfit and be done with it."
Harveste Addams' clothing was a study of global fashion from era to era. There was a meticulously-kept jade and sapphire ball gown next to what looked to be a kimono, a sari and a cheongsam. These were completely aside from all the blouses, chemises and corsets that had Narcissa clapping her hands in delight.
"No." He told his wife sternly when she unhooked one uncomfortable-looking black corset with heavy slate-grey embroidery. "Absolutely not."
"Perhaps we should start him off with something a bit more austere." Syrena said with a smile, the hangers flying under her questing fingers with little clacks of doom. "Ah, here we go..."
It was still a dress. Granted it had a floor-length skirt, a high collar, long sleeves and was about as provocative as a plank of wood, but it was still unmistakably a dress and not a robe.
Pinned to the hanger, almost like an afterthought, were a pair of fishnet stockings.
Lucius opened his mouth to refuse yet again when he caught his wife's eye. It had the glint it usually had when he was caught allowing Draco near his drinks cabinet.
"Oh, very well." He said with bad grace. "But I'm not wearing the bloody stockings."
In his infatuation, Pugsley had taken it upon himself to give Draco's cousin a guided tour of the house. From the kitchen, Draco and Hermione could hear the various crashes and bangs as Tonks, true to her clumsy nature, made her presence known in the house.
"And this is the upstairs torture room. Purely for recreational use, of course."
"How fascinating- oops."
Draco winced as he heard something sharp thudding into plaster at the same time as a howling whine started up. The rugs hadn't learned their lesson yet, it seemed.
"Your house is just full of surprises- are those stockades?" They heard Tonks exclaim.
"Certainly." Pugsley said proudly. "They're for relaxing in. Would you like to try one?"
"He sounds very eager, doesn't he?" Draco sighed as he stirred the potion Granny Frump had instructed them to make. An eyeball popped up amongst the gloopy chunks and winked at him.
"I think Tonks is interested." Hermione grinned as the blond made a face. "Don't be like that. Better Pugsley than Blaise."
Draco scowled. There had been a moment a week ago when Blaise's power had slipped from his control and spiked again. The smell of chocolate had been overwhelming, and when the air had cleared, a starry-eyed Tonks had been attached to Blaise's arm. The giant Slytherin had spent the next three days evading an incensed Pugsley's attacks, and if Hermione and Draco hadn't been helping him, Blaise would have been roasted alive, julienned with rusty knives, blown up, or fed to man-eating toads. It was only due to a timely call from Harveste that Blaise had gotten off the hook, both literally and figuratively, and only because Harveste had disclosed the whereabouts of a midnight shipment of explosives bound for an unknown terrorists' hideout. The very next morning, Blaise had not woken up to an axe next to his pillow, and Peter Pettigrew had several new companions in the dungeons.
"So where is Mr. Sex-on-Legs today anyway?" Draco asked, chopping the bat wings a little rougher than necessary.
"He didn't tell you? His mum set him up on a date with Bess Halderman next door. They'll be gone all afternoon."
"He’s on a what now?"
"To tell you the truth, I think his mum is happy that he agreed, and I am too. If everything goes well, maybe we can get some homework done without wanting to shag him every fifteen minutes."
Draco's hand slipped and skewered a ripe boil. He jumped back with a curse, managing to avoid the worst of the pus. "Hermione!"
She rolled her eyes. "We're friends, Draco. The least we can do is be honest with each other."
"There is such a thing as too much honesty!"
Hermione laughed. "Alright, alright, I'm sorry."
"Though I do think your future girlfriend will be quite surprised when she realizes she's nabbed the only boy in Hogwarts who doesn't want to get to second base."
"Or boyfriend, whichever you like. You might have a chance with Zacharias Smith, even though he's a bit of a tosser."
"I’ve no time to fool around, and even if I did, I can do much better than Smith, thank you.”
"Never knew a Malfoy to be so reticent when it came to extra-marital situations." A gruff, gravelly voice said behind them. "When I went to school with your grandfather, he had slept through the entire female population of Hogwarts twice by the time he was in his Fifth Year."
Startled, Draco threw the slime-covered spoon as he turned around, only to have Mad-eye Moody catch it mid-flight. The Auror raised a scraggly eyebrow at him and licked it experimentally.
"Ah, sir, don't do that-"
"You've got good reflexes on you, Malfoy. Burn Healing Paste, eh?" Moody smacked his lips, which had turned green. "A rather unusual alternative version at any rate. Hog-nosed bats' wings?"
"Err, among other things." Draco said, moving to stand in front of a bottle of human ankle bones. "It's Granny Frump's recipe. She said you might be able to use it for your Aurors." He wisely left out the part where she had added that damaged parts were no good for her future experiments. It was looking highly unlikely that the entire Auror division would be making it out of the Addams family home alive.
"That woman knows her stuff." Moody handed Draco back the spoon. "What's this I hear about you going to Norway for a visit?"
Hermione watched as the blond's miffed expression melted away at this reminder, to be replaced with what Blaise privately termed as his Rabid Fan look. "We're just dropping by to see Cousin It's…offspring."
"Cousin It, eh? The one that looks like a hairpiece? Excellent poker face?"
"Ah." Moody shrugged, and for a moment, both his shoulders were the same height. Who was he to expound on other people's suspicious looks? "Minister Scrimgeour has just sent me a letter. If ever young Addams wants any additional security, there are Aurors at your disposal."
Hermione breathed a silent prayer of thanks that Granny Frump wasn't present to hear that little tidbit. "It's fine, Auror Moody, thank you for offering. We'll be alright on our own for a little bit. Voldemort's not going to take a side trip to Norway, even for Harveste."
"Yeh never know, Miss Granger." Moody said, quietly acknowledging her fearless use of You-Know-Who's name. "Constant vigilance, that's what I always say."
"We know, sir." The small blond emerged from his fantasies of what he would say when he was in front of THE Gellert Grindelwald. "We can take care of- oh my dear gods."
Draco didn't know whether to die of shared familial embarrassment or howl with laughter when he saw 'Harveste' walk into the room, wearing a dress and looking as aggrieved as a Kneazle in a werewolf den. He would bet his potions book that this was his mother's doing.
"Feeling alright, lad?" Moody asked gruffly, his blue eye swiveling around to focus on 'Harveste's' pinched features.
"I am fine. It is... a new garment."
"Chafes, does it?"
Moody's eye flickered between watching the young Addams and the interesting expression that crossed Draco's face. Hermione nudged her friend.
"You look very pretty, Harveste." She couldn't help but say.
"Thank you, Hermione." 'Harveste' said with a quelling look. "Draco, your mother wishes to talk with you."
"I hope it’s not to convince me into wearing a pinafore- oww, Hermione!"
Whatever Draco expected, it wasn't to see his mother pacing the third floor drawing room like a caged jaguar. He certainly didn't expect to see Blaise's mother and Mrs. Addams there as well, sitting in the wing-backed chairs in front of the fireplace and sipping their tea. He had to fight the feeling that he was stepping into a den of black widow spiders, and the only thing that kept him from bolting was the look in his mother's face when she turned to him.
She was furious. And crying. He had never seen his mother cry before.
"Mother? What's wrong?"
"Come and sit with us, Draco." Syrena said kindly when Narcissa shook her head and continued pacing. "We would like to talk to you about something important."
"Is this about the electric chair?" He asked warily, taking a seat as far away from them as he could without seeming impolite. "Because we were going to put the electrodes back exactly where they were, honest."
"I knew Fester had a little extra sizzle in his step this morning." Morticia said with a smile.
"No, it's not about that. It's about this letter. Narcissa received it a few minutes ago."
Draco took the proffered parchment hesitantly and unrolled it. It was from his Aunt Bella.
"I’m being summoned?” The parchment, singed a bit around the edges, crumpled in his hands as he heard the strangled sound his mother made. His eyes skittered over the spidery writing, a frown wrinkling his forehead with every word he read. "The Dark Lord wants me to take his Mark!"
"And will you?" Morticia asked softly, watching him from over her teacup.
"What? I-" Draco's mouth opened and closed soundlessly. He never thought he would be offered the Dark Mark, not even when he was younger and his father had shown him pictures of what it looked like. Lucius Malfoy never showed anyone the real thing, the ghastly dark tattoo that marred his otherwise unmarked skin. "I would never betray Harveste like that, Mrs. Addams. I- he's my best friend."
He was caught up in an unexpected hug, and he uncomfortably patted his mother's back as her cold tears wet his neck.
"My son, my only son…"
"Mother...” Draco cleared his unreasonable tight throat as he tried to comfort her. “It’s going to be alright. I already said I'm not taking it. I've got better plans for a tattoo than an uncomely skull and snake." He bit back a squeak at the look on her face. "For the god, Mother, the rite of passage."
"Oh." She drew back and sniffled into a lacy handkerchief. "I'm so proud of you, my Draco. You're growing up to be such a man."
"Err… thank you?"
"But my sister! That stupid, blind wench! How dare she offer you to the Dark Lord? My only son!" Draco stepped back as his mother began to rage. "And to say that she wishes to have Him and his dirty, unkempt horde of slaves in my house! My house! With my priceless tapestries and Italian marble!"
"I don't think Aunt Bella really cares about furnishings, Mother, but after what Hermione did to her, it’s unlikely that she’s planning anything." Draco took another glance at the parchment in his hand. “This letter hasn’t been signed. It could have been anyone.”
Narcissa’s perfect eyebrows drew close. "If it’s not Bella, then some ignorant fool has volunteered my home to become a Dark pig sty. The last time they were at the Manor, I had to burn my carpets afterwards!"
"We can't have that. Good carpets cost a fortune nowadays." Syrena stirred her own tea and took a sip. She made a face.
"Dear me, that seems to be the salt pot." Morticia sighed, pulling the tattered cord that hung behind her. "Lurch doesn't usually get the tea wrong."
"You. Rang. ?."
"Yes, Lurch. Would you like to explain why you have included the salt pot in this tea service?"
"My. Apologies. Mrs. Addams." The butler groaned emotionlessly, the small china container almost lost in his gigantic hand.
"Do bring us the usual pepper and frog spawn. Would you like a biscuit, Syrena? The crickets give them a lovely crunch."
"Yes, thank you." Even the dainty pink-handled tongs looked dangerous in Syrena's fingers. "Voldemort and his followers are getting to be quite the nuisance, aren't they? Before Blaise and I arrived for Lavinia's birth, a group of them came calling. They had the audacity to threaten to burn down my vineyard, can you imagine?”
"What happened?" The Malfoy matriarch murmured, finally composing herself and accepting a biscuit. Draco started to remind her that it had insects in, but thought better of it.
"The vines don’t take well to threats. The crop promises to be one of the best this year, I shall send you some when the grapes ripen."
"Err, Mother?" Draco spoke up, feeling as though he'd been tossed by a whirlwind of feminine emotions and was now floundering without an anchor. They were talking about grapes now, for gods' sakes. "What are we going to do about this letter? Harry’s in Azkaban masquerading as Father, and if the Dark Lord is displeased at my non-compliance, something might happen to him."
"Lucius joined the Death Eaters before we were married. I am Dark, but I’ve never condoned their methods.” Narcissa said with a brittle smile, completely composed now. The only outward sign of her breakdown were the unshed tears that made her eyes look like naked diamonds. "I know you have your plans, but the thought of you in that same company- Go on now, back to your friends. Mother will take care of everything. I will find the imbecile that sent me this vile letter, I’m of a mind to send them a strongly-worded Howler."
Syrena took another prim bite of cricket biscuit. "I'm sure we can do much better than that, dear."
On his way out the door, Draco couldn't help but glance backwards. He watched disbelievingly as the women settled back against their chairs, now blandly discussing the thorough extermination of the Death Eaters, just as they would talk about crochet patterns. He had a disturbing thought then, as to what the world would be like if mothers ran it.
Lucius woke up with a scream. It was better to get it out of the way. He had been dreading this day ever since Draco had told him-
His timely shriek had startled the dark shadow that hovered over his bed. It gave him a bare second to Disapparate before the jagged edge of a cleaver sliced through his pillow.
"Come back here!" An inhuman screech tore through the air as he scrambled out of the room and into the torch-filled hallway, Malfoy decorum be damned. He would rather alive and undignified than be proud and dead.
It was as if the screech had summoned the very denizens of the underworld. Everywhere he turned, there were vague menacing figures in the darkness, the graying morning light putting an unholy edge on various weaponry and grins with more than a definite hint of fang. Thanking the gods that he was in a young and obviously battle-honed body, Lucius vaulted off the last twelve steps of the grand staircase and skidded into the Library. An axe whistled through the air after him, and he slammed the double doors shut just in time.
Hermione Granger jerked up from where she had been sleeping on an open book. Draco was curled up on the couch beside her, dead to the world.
"Wha' time zit?" She yawned as Lucius yanked a particularly large saber from the wall. "Whas' wrong?"
"It is bedlam out there, Miss Granger! Bloody bedlam!"
When the door opened, Lucius whirled around, both the saber and his wand at the ready.
"Relax, Mr. Malfoy, it's just me." Blaise said placatingly.
"Do not tell me to relax! I woke up to a cleaver-wielding maniac not five minutes ago!"
"Granny Frump's not that bad." Hermione blearily accepted a hot mug of tea from Blaise, nudging Draco with her stockinged foot as she took a gulp. "It's only four forty-five in the morning. They're starting early this year."
"Why is this happening?" Lucius demanded, Levitating a bookshelf to block the door, which was now shaking. "They know I'm not Harveste!"
"I suppose it's their way of missing him. It really is a shame he's not here to enjoy it."
"Enjoy - !"
Draco finally opened his eyes when Blaise pinched him, simultaneously swatting at his hand and grabbing his morning cup of hot chocolate.
"Draco, this is not the time for lethargy! There are madmen after me!"
"I did warn you, Father. It was only a matter of time."
Lucius felt like he was in the midst of a waking nightmare. His own son looked as unconcerned as his friends, sitting calmly on the couch as the entire house rocked under what seemed to be a stampede of epic proportions. "Yes, but you never said it would be like this! How does Harveste deal with this sort of thing?"
"He enjoys it. It is his birthday party, after all."
Somehow, by some infinite blessing of Woden, Lucius had managed to duck, evade, deflect and otherwise escape everything the Addams family had thrown at him, though it had looked to be a close thing when they had decided to unleash the hounds. Fortunately for his nerves, the Birthday Hunt ended at a quarter past seven, just in time for the postman.
Now they sat down for the Breakfast Feast. Hermione wisely passed on the testicles this time, seeing as it most probably wasn't goats'.
"Good game, my man, good game!" Gomez said, heartily clapping a stoic 'Harveste' on the back. "The way you ran into the quicksand to throw us off, absolutely wonderful!"
"It's a family tradition." Pugsley was explaining to Tonks. "If you survive, then you've got a strong will to live. If not, well, it's easier to just put one date on the tombstone."
One the other side of the table, Cousin It and Auror Moody seemed to have struck up a strange friendship. The strangest ever, in Draco's opinion.
"Certainly a novel way to get the blood pumping." Moody said as he accepted a plateful of veiny lumps from Lurch. "Haven't had that much excitement since Auror training. It's only too bad that we have to go back to England this afternoon. Have to get these younger ones out of here while they're still in one piece."
Cousin It buzzed. Aunt Margaret translated with a smile. "You simply must stay for cake. Lurch has gotten much better at baking. Only one casualty on Gomez' birthday, through no fault of his own, of course."
"That's very kind of you, providing we are not over-staying our welcome?"
"Certainly not, old boy!" Gomez said jovially as he lit his cigar with a torch in the shape of a burning cat. "Stay as long as you like! It's excellent target practice for Wednesday!"
Alastor's smile was like the edge of a saw. The few bandaged Aurors that had managed to haul themselves out of the minefield groaned. "Anything to train the younger generation. There’s no better way to train for constant vigilance, eh? Alright, we're staying for cake, but then we really have to leave for our debriefing."
"That sounds horrible."
"Not really. We stop listening after the first half hour."
Tonks had promised to fire-call Pugsley as soon as they arrived in London, and in his ecstasy, he had set about raking the coals from the big fireplace in the ballroom. It hadn't been cleaned in more than four hundred years, Gomez had said with a laugh as his son pulled out something red, white, and very dead from the chimney. Pugsley had considerately trampled the soot into the carpets afterwards. An Addams in love was still an Addams.
Lucius had retired to his room with an ice pack and a pint of Dreamless Sleep that Draco had taken care to make himself. Narcissa and Syrena had disappeared somewhere again. Draco supposed that he should be a little concerned that his mother had become fast friends with someone who had buried her tenth husband to date, but whatever didn't kill his father would only make him stronger.
Hermione and he were both helping Lurch clear up the remains of the party when the lid of a cauldron began to rattle. The heavy clattering built up until, with a great whoosh, the cast-iron lid flew up and hit an impassive Lurch in the face with a resounding clang.
"Hello. Master. Harveste."
"Hello, Lurch. Where is Grandmama?"
"Ah. That time of the month again, is it?"
"Harry!" Hermione dashed over and peered into the cauldron. There was liquid in it, though it was too grubby to hazard a guess as to what it was, but more important than that mystery was the fact that Lucius' face was floating in it. "Oh, I've missed you so much! How is it over there? Are they treating you alright?"
"They are doing their best, though no one here really knows how to use thumbscrews. I have missed you too, darling, and you, Draco."
Draco, standing beside the giddily grinning witch, found a hitherto undetected tightness in his chest easing at the sight of that implacable smile. No matter that it looked vaguely out of place on 'his father's' face, he would know it anywhere. "Hey, Harveste."
"Where is Blaise? Wednesday hasn't managed to get him, has she?"
"Oh. No. He's… he's out."
"He's out on a date." Hermione blurted out. "With Therese Halsy from a few doors down."
"What?" Draco's mouth hung open. "You said it was Bess Halderman!"
"That was days ago, and then she had to go to the hospital because she came down with the flu."
"What an interesting development."
Hermione blinked and clapped her fingers over her mouth, looking down at the cauldron. "Oh, Harry, we're sorry we didn't tell you. You aren't mad?"
"Why would I be, darling? Needs must." Even in the murk, Harveste's eyes were lustrous. "I suppose Mistress Zabini is very pleased."
"Maybe." Hermione said, thankful for the change in topic. "We haven't seen much of her lately. Draco says that all the mums have formed a sort of… well, committee against Voldemort."
"How droll." Harry chuckled. "Mother must be having quite the time. She hasn't been on a committee since the P.T.A. took out that restraining order."
"Yes, well…Err, Harry? Since you're in Azkaban… I mean, you wouldn't like to tell us… how you're going to get out of there? We've still got school in September."
"And the trip to Norway to see Gellert Grindel-" Draco choked on a yelp as a foot stamped down on his. "I mean, if you really can't make it, we can call ahead and can- and cance- I can't say it, sorry."
Harry laughed, the sound hollowed by the sides of the cauldron. "It's fine, darling. I will meet you all in Norway on the fifteenth of August."
Hermione rolled her eyes as Draco's entire face lit up. "Are you sure?"
"Yes, I promise. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for school. I must ask Lucius to continue the façade for a little while longer."
"What? But your homework!"
"I shall send it in by vulture, if you like. I would think your father would be quite pleased, Draco. He can think of this as a break from the scurrilous, under-handed banality that is the new Minister, and have a nice time fighting for his life." Harveste smiled up at them. "And now, I am afraid, you must both run."
"What? But I wanted to ask you more about Volde-" Hermione was cut off when Draco, who had sensed an overwhelmingly dense killing aura coming down the stairs, grabbed her and ducked under the table. The doors blasted open not a second later.
"Hello, Valkyrie. Have you missed me?"
Their O.W.L.s had arrived a few days later. Hermione had screamed and nearly strangled her owl in her haste to get the letter off. Draco had had to rescue the poor thing before Wednesday arrived to put it out of its misery. After that came wiser owls from Luna and Neville, who were clever enough to shake their letters off onto the table and fly right back out the window without being tempted by Pugsley's owl treats. They had all passed of course, but Hermione, who had eleven Outstandings, was now a little put off at the realization that she could have gotten all twelve if she had just stuck with Divination.
"Come off it, Hermione." Blaise smiled as his mother happily framed his certificate. "Eleven full O.W.L.s is amazing all by itself. They'll probably offer you a teaching position at Hogwarts the minute you graduate."
"Ah, the molding of young minds." Gomez said, puffing furiously on his ever-present cigar as he read his copy of the Prophet. "There is no better calling, dear Hermione, than providing the new generation with a priceless, unshakeable trauma."
"I'll keep it in mind, Mister Addams."
"Good girl. By gum, look at this! Another village razed to the ground, fourth one this month!" Cigar smoke billowed out from behind the newspaper as it rustled. "One hundred dead, dozens of children orphaned, and the non-magical hospitals are full to bursting."
"Four villages in one month?" Wednesday paused long enough for Lavinia to wiggle free from the noose. "That Voldemort has to pick it up a notch if you ask me."
"Not all psychopaths are the same, dear." Morticia said with a red-lipped smile as she watched her youngest daughter wiggle over to Draco and hold her arms up. Addams babies mastered motor skills before anything else. It led to very interesting murders.
"Things sound like they're getting exciting over there! How about we take a day trip?"
"Gomez," the Addams matriarch scolded admonishingly. "This is a very traumatic time for these people. What horrors they must have seen, what anguish they must have suffered… and all those dead bodies, burned beyond recognition, unable to know the ecstasy of being buried six feet under."
"What do you propose, cara mia?"
"Perhaps a long weekend. We'll make a picnic of it."
When it came to attractive men in prison, the usual course of events was an unpalatable and often times unwilling exchange of sexual favors, and no one could deny the attractiveness of one Lucius Malfoy. Under the freezing batter of the shower nozzle, icy rivulets running down his muscled back and legs, he looked like the carnal sort of river god. If looking seductive was a crime, then he would have been arrested twice over. The curious thing was that no one, not even those who had been incarcerated for going on a century, dared to touch him. Not after what happened to Gennady Cooke. They were still fishing bits of him out of the drainpipes.
Even so, it was difficult not to look at him, even though he was just going through the motions. Eyes like polished Sickles shone with amusement when he caught Bentford Muntz staring, and the young Auror looked away hastily, but not before a blush tainted his cheeks. Robards rolled his eyes. These young ones today...
Kevin Truscott, the newest inmate, barely in his twenties and adamant at his trial that he had been wrongfully accused, was not as off-limits as Malfoy was. Gawain frowned when he heard the young man squeak in protest as he was manhandled against the far wall. Dagmar Vitti, bald-faced degenerate that he was, had no qualms about abusing other prisoners, no matter that there were officers of the law stationed at the door to prevent him from doing exactly that.
"Let him go, Vitti."
"Or what?" The hulking man bared his rotten brown teeth at the Auror, now with one meaty hand over Truscott's mouth and the other bruisingly tight over his wrists. "You goin' to put me in prison? I'm not scared of you, Robards. What the hell else can you and the Ministry do to me?"
Young Muntz, the blush fading away in the wake of this new situation, banged his fist against the door twice. Quick as a breath, three more Aurors were in the shower room.
Vitti laughed. "How scary you are, callin' for reinforcements before anythin’s begun." The laugh turned into a snarl. "Fuckin' cowards, all of you."
Gawain ignored the insult. "Let him go right now and I'll think about putting you in solitary for a month, as opposed to stringing you upside-down in the courtyard for your obvious stupidity."
"Make me." Truscott gave a muffled cry of pain as his wrists were ground harshly together.
Before Gawain could signal his companions forward, another growl interrupted them.
"Can't a man wash his damn hair in peace anymore? You couldn't wait a few minutes before letting your hormones get the better of you, Dagmar?"
"Fuck off, Lestrange." Vitti snapped, taking his eyes off the Aurors to glare at the gaunt, wild-eyed man who had the balls to bathe next to Malfoy. "This has nothing to do with you."
"Half-blood bastard, you dare-"
The squeak of a tap turning off a shower head had all eyes turning to Malfoy, who quietly tucked his threadbare towel around his hips before walking towards the door. Afterwards, Gawain realized that, even on the slick stone floor, Malfoy's bare feet had made no sound at all.
Lucius stopped next to him. "Auror Robards."
"What is it, Malfoy?" He asked stiffly, still glaring at Vitti. “I’m a bit busy at the moment.”
"You have not assigned me a cellmate since Mr. Cooke’s demise. May I ask why?"
"What?" Gawain's eyebrows knotted in confusion at the sudden inquiry. "I've been too busy for cell assignments, as you well know, dealing with all these riots that the Death Eaters always seem to be in the middle of."
"What a terrible thing it is to be burdened by a workload." The man's tone was inscrutably polite, as if they were just chatting about the weather. "Perhaps if I requested a companion? Our latest project for arts and crafts is a two-person job."
"And which companion would this be?" Gawain prodded stoically, still confused as to what was going on. Hell if he’d let Malfoy know though.
"Someone with steady hands.” Lucius tapped his lips with a finger. A bead of water ran down his forearm, followed by starving eyes. “I was thinking of Kevin Truscott, actually. Do you think that would be feasible?"
Gawain raised an eyebrow. Even though Malfoy had never even so much as glanced at Vitti, who was now fuming, he knew that Malfoy never missed a chance to turn anyone's problem to his advantage. Well, well, what a turn of events this was. "After what happened with Platt, Malfoy? I wouldn't think so."
"Certainly you do not think that had anything to do with me. I have no instruments to slit someone's throat with. You searched my room yourself, did you not?"
He was your bloody cellmate, of course it was you."What of Olcock?"
"Choked on the glue that I was using for my reconstruction of the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile. I warned him not to drink from my mug."
"And Pickton?" Gawain turned his head to look dispassionately at Vitti even as he continued to speak to Lucius.
"Poisoned by an extra helping of what the cook affectionately likes to call 'bashed potatoes'. I must say your Aurors did very well trying to stuff his intestines back into his mouth."
"What the fuck is going on?" Vitti hissed angrily. Truscott's wide frightened eyes darted from his enraged captor's face to Malfoy's bare back. "What the fuck are you talking about?"
"And Cooke, Malfoy?" A corner of Gawain's lips lifted dangerously as Vitti's teeth gnashed. "What sort of accident did he meet with?"
"Slipped on a bar of soap, bit off his tongue and broke both arms, his jaw and his neck. He died in this very room, Auror Robards. You were here when it happened, yes?"
"I was. I fail to see why I should give you a new cellmate at all, Malfoy, seeing as they all seem to expire after a few days. How do I know that the same thing will not happen to Truscott?"
"On the contrary, Auror Robards. Mr. Truscott's help would be invaluable. I always had exceptional grades in Hogwarts, and I have no intentions of failing our alternative classes. In fact, if I were to get a less than satisfactory mark due to any untoward circumstances- for example, if something were to happen to my partner that made him unable to contribute to my project- I would be very displeased."
"Just as you were with Platt, and Olcock, and Pickton, and Cooke."
"I’m sure I do not follow, Auror Robards."
"Kevin Truscott, hmm?" Gawain never knew he could be so vindictively gratified, and due to a Death Eater at that. Truscott's face was a mixture of confused horror and disbelieving hope. "Very well, Malfoy. I'll have him transferred to your cell as soon as he finishes his shower."
"Thank you." Malfoy inclined his head politely and turned to leave the room with another stone-faced Auror. But before he was out the door, he looked over his shoulder.
And smiled directly at Dagmar Vitti.
Vitti's blood drained out of his face abruptly, leaving him ashen. He stumbled backwards, as if he been physically hit, and Truscott slid down the wall to collapse onto the wet floor.
And then the only sound in the room, aside from the spatter of water and the low haunted moan that issued from Vitti's lips, was the laughter of Rabastan Lestrange.
"What do you want with me?"
The cell was as gloomy as any in Azkaban, but it somehow seemed more disconcerting. The shadows seemed thicker here, the air colder, the meager sunlight from the window dimmer. And it didn't help Kevin's nerves when the dark form on the bed, almost corpse-like in its stillness, opened its eyes. They glowed like the full moon, and he felt a pull deep inside his chest.
No, not here.
Kevin had been in Azkaban for five days, and during that time, he had heard all sorts of things about Lucius Malfoy, the least of which was that he was an alleged Death Eater. That information paled next to the sheer outrageousness of other claims: that he could kill with a look; that his skin was poisoned; that he had murdered his former roommates to drink their blood; that he could garrote people with his hair; that he spoke to toilets. Looking at the cabalistic smile that was directed at him, Kevin could believe all that and more.
"Whatever do you mean, Kevin?"
"I may be new here, but I'm not stupid. I know you saved me and all but… but I'm not going to sleep with you."
As soon as he said it, Kevin wanted to bite off his tongue. He supposed that the leftover adrenaline from his unfortunate run-in with Vitti was still pumping through his bloodstream. That was the only reason he would have blurted out what he did.
The soft chuckle made goosebumps race over his skin. "I would not dare to assume such impropriety. You may rest easy on that front, Kevin."
"Then it's my blood you want. That's it, isn't it? You're a vampire?"
"Certainly not." The figure sat up and Malfoy's aristocratic face came into the light. "Do try and relax, Kevin. I will not ask of you what you will not grant me willingly."
"Then you do want something." Kevin kept his back pressed against the wall as he sidled across the room to the empty bunk. He knew it was probably a mistake to show such open trepidation – all the shows on the telly said that this was one sure-fire way to get killed in prison – but he couldn't help the feeling that Malfoy was watching him like a lion would watch a wounded hyena, and it was better to be cautious.
But not cautious enough to defend against inhuman speed. One moment, Malfoy was sitting placidly on his coverlet, the next he was tipping Kevin's chin up to look into his eyes. Malfoy's other hand was around his fist, squeezing just enough to prevent him from plunging a makeshift shank into the man's stomach. His touch was as cold as ice.
"Let go of me! I said I'm not going to sleep with you!"
"Not all men here are as deprived as Dagmar Vitti." The bastard didn't even have the decency to look vexed as Kevin struggled to push his captive arm upwards. "Please put that troubling notion out of your head."
"Well, that's bloody hard to do, isn't it, seeing as you've bloody pinned me to the bloody wall!"
"Only to prevent you from doing something you will surely regret when I tell you I know." Malfoy's eyes were suddenly serious as they bore into his. "I know all your secrets, Kevin Truscott."
"What the hell-"
"I know you were arrested on suspicion of being a Death Eater. Your father was suspected to be one himself, but he disappeared, so you were taken for questioning instead. A cursory trial, no Veritaserum, and then you were taken in front of the Minister himself, yes? And offered a deal. One might even say it was a deal of a lifetime, especially for one with your… special circumstances."
"How the hell do you know? Get away from me or I'll-!"
"Call Minister Scrimgeour?" Malfoy chuckled again, his arctic breath ghosting over Kevin's cheek. The shank, razor-sharp chips of stone imbedded into a candle, fell unheeded to the floor and broke in two. "That would invalidate your deal, would it not? You are specifically instructed not to contact him in any way unless you fulfill your end of the bargain: To infiltrate Voldemort's ranks by outwardly aligning yourself with incarcerated Death Eaters and escaping with them when they break out of Azkaban. And in return for information, you will not be required to register your… plight."
Almost as if by accident, the hand at his chin slipped, and for a moment, it pressed against the covered junction of his neck and shoulder. Kevin always kept his shirt buttoned high over his throat, even in the hottest weather. His struggles took on a new edge of desperation. It was impossible, no one but his father and the Minister knew. Not even the Aurors who had taken him knew about it, it wasn't even in his arrest record…
The inner pull, centered on his chest, grew stronger and with it- No!
"You're one of them, aren't you? A Death Eater? Well, if you're going to kill me, you'd better do it now."
The shadows seemed to echo Malfoy's laugh. "Werewolves. Always so fatalistic. My Uncle was just like you. He says it is common for unmated wolves that have no pack. Though I assume that with your denial, you have not been looking for one?"
"I would rather rot here in Azkaban," Kevin hissed furiously. "Than to give in to this monster's desires."
"We shall see."
Malfoy stepped backwards and Kevin, his heart pounding a mile a minute, fell to his knees.
"Do cease your theatrics, Kevin. They will not be necessary. Your weapon is by your bedside, where you can repair it and attempt to kill me again. But not right now, because we have calisthenics in a few minutes and I would not want you to tear a muscle before time."
The young man gaped, unable to follow the twisted logic. "What the fuck are you on, Malfoy? Are you only going to kill me after you've driven me completely crazy?"
"Why would I kill you, Kevin? I need you alive."
Malfoy merely smiled. "Do you know what day it is, Kevin?"
"The fourteenth of August." He said unthinkingly, caught off guard by the candid inquiry.
"Correct. I have an appointment that I simply cannot miss, and I would like your help. No," He held up a hand when Kevin opened his mouth. "I do not need your blood or any carnal gratification. All I require is your complete physical silence for five days."
"What the hell does that mean?"
"It means that you will not speak at all. Not a word, not a sound should pass your lips."
"Five days of silence so you can get to your 'appointment'? You're just going to escape, aren't you? And then what, I get fifty more years in Azkaban for aiding a Death Eater?"
"I shall come right back, Kevin, there is no need to worry."
He barked out a laugh. "Yeah right. Fat fucking chance, Malfoy. You can take your deal and shove it up your-"
"Language, Kevin." Malfoy said blandly, but behind him shadows danced, as if blown by the gust of freezing air that had just come through the window. "There is a spell to ensure your obeisance, but I would prefer it if you did it out of your own volition."
"…you can't do magic in Azkaban. You don't have your wand."
"I can do a lot of things, with or without a wand." The silver eyes glimmered in the darkness. "For example, I can make sure you are safely escorted into Voldermort's inner circle without anyone knowing you are the Ministry's spy. On the other hand, if you choose not to honor my request…"
Kevin’s jaw tightened. "Are you blackmailing me?"
"Blackmail is such a coarse word. But yes, I am."
He had made his way back to his bunk as unobtrusively as possible during the course of the unsettling conversation. Questing fingers found the jagged edges of the stone-covered candle. For a moment, Kevin debated just throwing caution to the wind and letting the monster in him out. No matter how fast he was, Malfoy would still be inconvenienced by a full-grown werewolf, and even if the man managed to kill him, he would still have to find someone else to agree to this insane idea of his.
But giving in to the monster was exactly what his father would have wanted. That, and the fact that Romulus Truscott would never have approved of Malfoy's strangeness, made him jerk his head in a rough nod. When the blond smiled, he knew he had made the right decision. He would do what he had to and get out of Azkaban, and if whatever information he gathered helped put away You-Know-Who for good, then that would at least help the blight that had been cast on the Truscott name.
Still, he was curious. "But I- Why would you want to help the Ministry, Malfoy? You're a Death Eater. Shouldn't you be on You-Know-Who's side?"
"I am on my own side, Kevin. I always have been."
The fifteenth couldn't come fast enough for Draco. By the eighth of August, he had packed and re-packed his luggage at least ten times. On the eleventh, he had taken all his potions off the fire because he kept blowing his eyebrows away. The night of the fourteenth, he kept Blaise up with his nervous chattering and pacing, becoming so wound up that Blaise had threatened to toss him into the bottomless well.
Morticia had kindly allowed them to bring Lavinia, partly so that she could bond with her older brother and partly because of the fuss the baby had made when Draco had bid her good bye. When they left, they had had to walk around the crater where the west wing gardens had been.
Two Portkeys, a boat ride and three Inter-Floos later, they were in a waiting room somewhere high up in the Trollheimen mountain range. Hermione's backpack was bristling with rolls of maps and a folder full of sightseeing tours. Draco was carrying an ancient copy of Grindelwald's exploits throughout Europe and Antarctica on one arm and Lavinia and her baby things on the other. That left Blaise to carry the rest of the luggage.
"You guys could carry a little bit, you know." The tall Slytherin grumbled, putting down the giant black trunk Morticia had insisted they bring. The resounding slam made other travelers look around. Their eyes widened at the sight of an extremely good-looking boy carrying twice his weight in wiggling, squeaking bags.
Draco sat down on the trunk with a sigh, settling Lavinia next to him as he fished out her bottle. "Do you see Harveste around?"
"I can't see over these bloody bags, Your Highness."
"Boys, please." Hermione was nearly dancing with delight. "We're in Norway! Look, it's Cousin What and Viktor!"
Cousin What, who was wearing a wide-brimmed black hat with a fetching black bow tied around it, buzzed pleasantly and accepted a hug from the merry witch. Viktor was as handsome as ever, and he graciously took half the bags from Blaise as he nodded a greeting.
"Welcome. Did you have any trouble on the way?"
"Only on the boatride, because we forgot the baby's teething ring." Draco said absently as he shook a golden tendril and let What relieve him of Lavinia. "But we found someone else to captain the ship, no trouble."
"And Harveste? I do not see him with you."
"He said he was going to meet us here- what on earth?"
Draco slid off the trunk quickly as it began to rattle and thump, drawing more stares. Lavinia took her fist out of her mouth and stretched both hands towards it.
The trunk exploded, a buckle whirring past Blaise's ear. The fire alarm began to sound, and an unfazed Viktor opened an umbrella for What.
"Well, that was unpleasant." A hauntingly familiar voice said from inside the smoke. "I can only hope it will be the same on the way back."
"Harry?" Hermione peered around the rubble and was rewarded with the sight of her friend, back in his own body and as pristine as ever. "You came!"
"Of course, darling. I always keep my promises." Harveste kissed her on the forehead and smiled at the gurgling baby. "Is that my little sister?"
Blaise and Draco looked at each other, back in the normal perpetually bewildered state of mind that Harveste's presence seemed to encourage. It was infuriating, no question about it, but at the same time it was familiar and reassuring.
"Not that we're not happy to see you, Harveste." Blaise began. "But-"
"How the hell did you get in there?" Draco interrupted. "I was sitting on it!"
"Magic, darling." Harveste chuckled and brushed his lips over the blond's cheek. "Magic."
On their trip to Durmstrang, riding a boat pulled by what Blaise suspected was a full-grown Kraken, Viktor had told them that he had passed the various assessments and inquiries from the International Board of School Directors. He would be starting as Headmaster this fall.
"That is our Gymnasium for the juniors." Viktor said, gesturing out towards the frozen grounds at a long, low building that looked indistinguishable from the other long, low buildings around it. "And the swimming pool is housed over there in Fossegrimen Hall, though it is only used when we can no longer crack the ice in the fjords."
"And who are those?" Hermione wondered out loud as a string of harried-looking people jogged by, each with an armful of books. "Librarians?"
"Those are students. We have summer classes for those who wish to have advanced courses or for those who have failed a grade. If they do not get enough points over the summer, they will be expelled."
"Isn't that a bit harsh?" Draco asked, peeking into a classroom where a teacher had just unceremoniously glued a talkative boy's feet to the ceiling.
"We do not tolerate failure in Durmstrang." Viktor said simply. "Especially since Karkaroff's disgrace. We cannot afford to."
"Well, I think it's a novel idea.” The Gryffindor witch tucked her hair behind her ear, already looking forward to browsing the Durmstrang Library. “We should have summer classes in Hogwarts."
"Of course we should. Gods forbid we have a little time to ourselves, Hermione."
"Shut up, Blaise."
Viktor had showed off the rest of Durmstrang with pride. Draco would have been happy to spend the entire day touring it, especially the extensive and rare ingredient collections. Unfortunately, What had planned a little something different for their first night in Norway.
"Isn't this a little loud?" Draco shouted at Viktor as heavy bass beats vibrated through the woodwork of whatever dingy establishment What had dragged them into. “Where the hell are we?”
"It is What’s favorite underground bar! Try and enjoy yourself!"
"Fat chance," the blond muttered as the changing tune from the huge speakers resulted in piercing feminine shrieks. The entire place was a fire hazard, which was probably why What liked it so much, and the walls were ringed with shelves of accelerant, also known as alcohol. The multi-colored strobe lights were giving him a headache and left him wishing for the peace and quiet of his potions lab.
"Give it a chance, darling." Harveste's voice was as low and even as ever, but it was audible even above the noise. "Blaise and Hermione are having fun."
Draco scowled in response and looked over at the dance floor. Hermione's mop of hair was distinguishable even in the darkness and she moved with a confident, almost sultry grace that a normal person wouldn't have realized came from hours of exhaustive physical training. Blaise, on the other hand, danced like the foreplay on a lascivious wizarding photo. He already had a very interested set of admirers around him.
"Sex has done him good." Harry said blithely, raising an eyebrow as Draco coughed and spluttered on an untimely sip of Butterbeer. "Are you alright?"
"N-not you too." The blond wheezed as he buried his red face in his palms. "What is with you guys and talking about… about…"
"Sex?" Viktor supplied with a cheeky grin.
Draco groaned. "Can we please change the subject?"
"Sex is a natural part of life, darling." Harveste smiled over his Rothbean Gunslinger. "And it is Blaise's nature now. It would be irresponsible to deny himself. And it is not as if our yearmates and housemates have been depriving themselves. Your friends, the Weasleys, have been quite intimate with a few of the Gryffindors, and the Hufflepuffs, and the Ravenclaws."
"I'm not listening to this."
"Deidre has told me Professor Sinistra has been in an adventurous yet consensual relationship with Professor Hooch for the past two years."
Draco made a face. "Really not listening."
"And I myself have received many, many propositions in Azkaban, though perhaps that should be attributed mainly to your father's looks. Shall I order you another Butterbeer, darling? Yours seems to have exploded."
Draco glared at the brunette over the head of the waiter who had hurried over to clear the sticky glass-peppered mess off their table. "What do you mean, ‘propositioned’? So you mean you've been-"
"I have not." A cold hand ghosted over his, irrationally calming. "As Mother says, college first."
Viktor chuckled as the small blond settled back grumpily and downed half his new Butterbeer in one gulp. Hermione spun by the booth and laughingly pulled Draco onto the dance floor.
"You tease them mercilessly, Harveste."
The brunette calmly nibbled on the slice of turkey ham from his drink. "That is my nature, Viktor. I cannot deny it any more than Blaise can."
Draco had been in a sour mood all night. Blaise supposed that was only to be expected. He had seen the way the blond's eyes had lit up when he had seen an entire pitcher of Occamy venom in the Durmstrang ingredient stores, and Draco had probably been itching to experiment with it before they had gone to the bar. But that wouldn't have explained the cold shoulder Blaise had been getting for half the summer, and when they had finally returned to Viktor and What's admittedly very roomy chalet in the village, Draco had disappeared into his bed with a very pointed rattle of curtains.
"Is he mad at me, you think?"
Harveste paused from brushing out his hair. "Why would you say that?"
"He hasn't really been speaking to me lately." Blaise sat heavily on his bed. "Maybe it's just the stress of meeting Gellert Grindelwald tomorrow."
"Perhaps. Or it might be that he is feeling ignored in turn. Did you tell him that you were already sexually active?"
"I’m not really," He sighed. "I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but I’ve been doing… other things. I didn't want anyone to know.”
Harveste chuckled softly at his self-deprecating tone. "There is nothing to be ashamed of, Blaise. We do what we must."
"You'd say that, wouldn't you?" Blaise fell back against the thick coverlet and stared up at the ceiling. When he opened his mouth again, he strove for a nonchalant tone. "So... you spent your birthday in Azkaban. Your mum didn’t want the rest of the Addams to know where you were, just in case they got jealous, so Mr. Malfoy got quite the workout."
“I’m sure he did.”
Blaise leaned up on his elbows. “What did you do to celebrate?”
"I asked for an extra serving of bashed potatoes." Harveste's face was reflected in the mirror, which rippled for a moment then miraculously held. He looked exactly as Blaise remembered, a handsome face that was made up of shadows and sharp angles. "It's alright, darling. You can ask me what you want to know."
"Fine then." Blaise bit the inside of his cheek. He had been debating with himself for days, wondering if he really had the right to ask this particular question. It was useless to ask Harveste how he knew, of course. Harveste always knew. "You’re sixteen now. What did you do for your Low Call? What ungodly thing did you offer up?"
"There is nothing ungodly about it." Harry put down the brush, which scampered away to hide behind the tissue box. "I offered innocence."
"Just as Hermione offers the ability to make rational decisions, Draco offers the deepest of fears and you offer the electric energy of lust, I offered what my god desires the most, and that is the innocence of childhood."
"How can you offer your own innocence, Harveste?"
"I didn't. I offered yours." Harry said with a quiet smile. "And Hermione's, and Draco's."
Blaise rolled over and blinked at him. "You did what?"
"The diminishing of your innocence is a by-product of magical maturity, but it cannot be lost. Not unless, of course, your Low Call is to one of the Tricksters; unless it is a Low Call to Blood Magic. Dedicating yourself thus means you take on a responsibility that is older than you, to keep a balance in the world, no matter the cost. And that cost is your innocence."
"Then how did you get-"
"I have partaken of your blood. If it concerns the three of you, there is nothing I cannot do." Harveste tucked himself into his own bed and smoothed out the covers before looking back over at him. "I could not tell you. A price such as that needs to be given wholly. I could only give you the tools to learn about Blood Magic, but the decision to pledge yourselves had to be made of your own volition. Are you angry, Vali?"
Blaise returned the searching stare. “Tell me why I shouldn’t be.”
“I have always known where my dedication would lie, it is a gift of any young Addams. The gods speak to us more clearly, in a manner, and when we became friends, your potential called out to them. Not all are suited to such a life, so your innocence would have been amongst the greatest of offerings. Since you three went through your Low Calls first, I had to bind myself with an oath that I could acquire that innocence. When I declared my gift, I was so confident that I balanced it with the greatest sacrifice a wizard can make.”
There was nothing normal about what Harveste had just said, and everything had hinged on the three of them-
"So if we had done a Low Call to Light or Dark Magic, we wouldn't have lost our innocence, and-"
"My god would have never answered me again, and I would be powerless."
The straightforward admission made Blaise frown. "You would have let that happen?"
"Of course. I could not have expected you to risk yourselves without putting myself on the line as well. And power is not everything, not to me."
The tall Slytherin took a breath. Harveste made it sound so simple, and yet it was so profound that he couldn't wrap his mind around it properly. The risk he had taken… Blaise couldn't imagine not being a wizard, not being able to cast a simple spell or mix up a potion or even go to Hogwarts. His magic was a part of his heart and soul.
"This is your roundabout Addams way of telling me you love us, isn't it?"
The torches blew out, their enchantment ending at midnight, and in the darkness, Harveste laughed softly, hauntingly. "I suppose it is."
"Ohmigods, ohmigods, ohmigods-"
"He hasn't even had any chocolate yet." Blaise sighed as he watched Draco, his hair in total disarray, run down the stairs with his open bag. His things tumbled out of it with every step: quills, vials, books and what looked to be a string of neck bones and an assortment of ears.
"-ohmigods, ohmigods, ohmigods-"
"Hermione said he was up at five in the morning. She could hear him through the walls." Viktor chuckled as Draco saw the mess he had left behind and attempted to Summon everything back into his bag. Unfortunately, he was so jittery that he kept sweeping his wand in arcs bigger than they should have been.
"-ohmigods, ohmigods, ohmigods-"
Blaise grinned wickedly. "If you’re going to be this disorganized, I have half a mind to cancel-"
The taller boy was wrenched downwards by the collar before he could finish his sentence. Draco's teeth were bared in a grin of his own, and it wasn't so much wicked as it was maddened. "You try anything like that and they won't find your head, because I'll have shoved it so far up your ass-"
"Whoa, calm dow-"
"I'll kill you, I swear it-"
"Alright. I was just kidding, Draco."
"You don't kid when Gellert Grindelwald is involved."
Nurmengard was a tall and forbidding fortress perched precariously on an overhang between treacherous ravines. It looked like a gentle breeze could blow it over.
"A stick of dynamite'd do wonders for this place." Hermione observed as they followed one of the hulking troll guards to the highest tower. "A little more sunlight, some hanging plants and it'd make a nice country home, don't you guys think?"
"Yeah, a country home for a serial killer." Blaise muttered. "Seriously, Hermione."
"It does have a majestic view." Viktor said pleasantly. "And when the wind blows just right, you can hear the screams from the correctional facility on the valley floor."
Harveste smiled from under his umbrella. "Who could ask for more?"
Gellert Grindelwald looked exactly like a one hundred and fourteen year old incarcerated wizard should look: skinny, creepy and crazy. Crazy enough to shake Harveste by the hand even though they hadn't been introduced.
"You are an Addams!" The thin, bedraggled old man said, pumping Harveste's entire arm up and down. "I would know the look of your Family anywhere!"
"It is very nice to meet you at last, Mister Grindelwald. Cousin What has told me all about you."
"What comes here three times a month." Viktor explained to a flabbergasted trio. "To feed the spiders."
"So polite! That is the thing I remember most about your Great Aunt Quiemada, you know. Broke my arm in two places and burned my beard off, but in her defense, I had just asked to marry her brother. And then she offered to categorize my toadstools by way of apology, which was no easy feat, let me tell you. And you have a baby with you! What a treat!"
"Perhaps next time. My Mother expects her home after our trip. This is my sister, Lavinia."
Lavinia cooed happily in the face of danger.
"A chip off the old gravestone, I have no doubt!"
Blaise bit his lip to keep from laughing as one of the most feared Dark Lords in history chattered at a pleasantly nodding Harveste. Who would have ever expected that Grindelwald would be a dirtier, more unhinged version of Gilderoy Lockhart?
"Where are my manners?" Grindelwald asked the ceiling. "Please, sit down anywhere you'd like. I would offer you something more comfortable, but all I have is floor. Would you like a troll?"
Harveste smiled. "We just ate, but thank you. We brought you something actually. Cousin What said you liked fresh rat."
Draco looked unfazed by the way his idol, filthy with the grime of ages and sitting with his plate on his knees, daintily cut off a piece of roast rat tail and put it in his mouth.
"Oh, there is nothing quite like rat." Grindelwald sighed blissfully. "The benighted masses may prefer chicken or that awful grass-fed organic beef, but I say there is nothing better than a free-range sewer-grown rat with a glass of Romanee Conti."
"And who are your friends?" The Dark wizard said with a smile that wouldn't have looked out of place on a hanging victim. "It is so nice when young blood visits."
"These are my classmates: Blaise, Draco and Hermione. We all go to Hogwarts together."
The plate cracked.
"I am so sorry, I'm afraid my temper gets away with me sometimes." Grindelwald spoke up after a moment, gesturing apologetically at the ruined china. "In any case, all the better to enjoy my rat! I have not heard of Hogwarts in some time. Albus Dumbledore still teaches there, does he not?"
"He's the Headmaster now, sir." Hermione said carefully. "We know there was some bad blood between you…"
"All water under the bridge now." Grindelwald waved his fork negligently and Blaise leaned out of the way. "At least, it is for me. Dear Albus did me a favor, to tell you the truth. I loved him, in my own way, and I hurt him abominably with what I did. There was no one else I would have preferred to hand me my backside on a platter, to tell you the truth. I have had a very restful sabbatical up here, and the other prisoners keep me entertained. And of course, there are the visitors. They see me as a relic of the old days, the bad days. Do you know, some even try to assassinate me from time to time? Here, in my own prison!"
It had been a long visit. Predictably, the conversation had turned to Dark spells and rites, and from there to Horcruxes. Grindelwald had pounced on that topic like Lavinia had on a sparrow she had seen perched on the window sill.
Apparently, Harveste knew a lot about Horcruxes too.
"I still can't believe you've been eating bits of Voldemort's soul." Draco said with a wince of disgust as they walked out of the fireplace in the Durmstrang dungeons. What had slunk off to the kitchens to prepare dinner. If What cooked like Granny Frump did, they were in for a gastronomical adventure.
"If he has contingencies, it means he knows that some of his plans will fail. It falls to us to find out what those other plans are.”
"And how many Horcruxes have you gotten rid of so far again?" Hermione asked, checking the notes that she had jotted down during their visit. She had plenty of new information to research, and she wanted to get started as soon as possible. "Three?"
"Yes, and I suppose we have to look for at least three more. Dark Lord or not, Tom is very old-fashioned, and seven is a great magical number. That means six Horcruxes total, plus Tom himself."
The sound of a door slamming made them look around.
"Viktor Krum, where the hell have you been?" A tall, vibrantly red-headed, stunning woman demanded, striding across to them. It was no mean feat, seeing as she had on six inches of stiletto heel and the hall was made from cobblestones. "These children are driving me mad! If you do not take over, I shall put them all down for calligraphy classes!"
"Gentlemen and lady, meet Lady Hagar Blaunsteiner, our deputy headmistress." Viktor said wryly. "Hagar, as you can see we have guests-"
She barely spared them a glance before returning the full force of her glare to the renowned Seeker. Hagar was an unearthly beauty, blessed with shapely curves that were complemented by a tastefully-cut dress in the shade of fall leaves. There was something strangely familiar about her face and the way she tapped her manicured fingers against one pale forearm.
"A position I would not have accepted if you hadn't told me I would not have to stay in this dreary place for more than four hours every day. The four hours, may I add, that you undoubtedly spend cavorting with my deviant, selfish cousin."
Viktor rolled his eyes. "Yes, Hagar."
"I have better things to do than grade dismal attempts at the deconstruction of Wenlock's Theory of Numerology." The woman announced, pursing her full scarlet lips. "Slitting my wrists, for one. Or hanging myself."
"Wait, did she say cousin?" Blaise asked.
"Of course I di- Well hello, gorgeous." Hagar caught sight of him and stopped mid-tirade, he voice shifting from displeased to sultry in the space of a second. The corners of her mouth wickedly tilted upwards as she hooked one slender arm through his and leaned closer. "You look absolutely delectable. Where’ve you been all my life?”
Blaise blinked in confusion. "We just came from Nurmengard."
"I like a man who’s not afraid to do hard time."
Viktor laughed at the murderous look that crossed Draco's face and pulled his deputy headmistress away from certain dismemberment. "Down, Hagar. Forgive her. Lady Blaunsteiner gets somewhat unscrupulous after a long night grading papers."
"Scruples are someone else's problem." The irrepressible redhead smiled at them, one hand on the curve of her hip, the very picture of sensuality.
"I couldn't agree more." Harveste stepped forward to kiss her cheek. "How are you, cousin?"
"Harveste, my little snake in the grass!" Hagar's eyes widened with pleasure before she clasped the slim brunette to her. "What didn't tell me you were coming too! Oh, I'll wring the keratin out of that little ghoul's roots!"
The rest of them, minus Viktor, gaped as Harveste's pale face was lost in her bosom. "How many Addams do you have here?”
"Not very many, only the truly mad ones.” Viktor smiled as What slinked up behind him. “With Harveste here, we have the full set.”
A long time ago, in their Third Year, Harveste had expressed a desire to go to Durmstrang. Hermione could see why. There were no Headmasters with their own agenda - when Karkaroff had been alive, he had looked to be a quick learner - and it was almost never sunny. Harveste looked like he belonged, a dark, lithe figure standing against the stark outline of the school. He would have been safer here, with What and Hagar and who knew how many other Addams to keep Voldemort away.
But they weren't from Durmstrang. They were from Hogwarts and Hermione was a Gryffindor. That was what she kept reminding herself, and it took all her bravery to ask her best friend out onto the privacy of the grounds.
"What's the matter, darling?" He asked curiously, not seeming to feel the frigid breeze that toyed with the edges of his skirt.
"Nothing." She said automatically, then she clenched her hand and shook her head. "No, I mean… I'm worried, Harry."
"Whatever for? What has assured me that the rakfisk will taste just like surströmming and is perfectly traditional."
"It's not about the fermented fish, Harry. It's about everything else." Hermione wrung her hands and felt all that was troubling her bubble to the surface. "It's Voldemort and Horcruxes, and you're locked up in Azkaban and we don't know how to get you out, and we've lost Uncle Liverworth and I feel responsible, and N.E.W.T.s are coming up, and our applications for university after that-"
The witch stilled as hands like ice cubes caught hers, and the overwhelming feeling that this was normal, that Harry was a normal, immovable presence in her life, burst through her chest. To her horror, Hermione realized that her cheeks were wet. She took a deep, shuddering breath in an attempt to collect her thoughts.
"Blaise… Blaise told us what you gave for your Low Call. I know what that means, Harry."
"It means I cannot harm the three of you, or allow you to come to harm if I can prevent it." The brunette smiled and tucked her hair behind her ears caringly. "It is a price I am willing to pay, and it will not curtail my activities. There are six billion other people in the world."
"Everything will be just fine. You must trust me, just as I trust in you and your abilities. And Azkaban is not all that bad. I am making a particularly lifelike replica of a Nundu for my arts class."
Hermione's jaw set in a stubborn expression. "You can't keep secrets from us anymore, Harry. We want to help and you can't protect us by keeping us in the dark like this. It's our duty too now."
"Forgive me. That was not my intention." Green eyes looked unblinkingly into hers. "I do not know what you wish me to say."
"Just… promise that you'll tell us everything when you can. And not when the war is over and Voldemort is dead. Soon."
"I promise to tell you all that I have planned, even though you might not agree to some of it." Harry chuckled as she raised an eyebrow, looking quite like Morticia at that moment. "Alright, probably most of it. But I promise."
"Good. Oh, Harry, there's so much to do. I wish I wasn't a prefect, honestly. There are LAID classes to fix too, do you know, because I've been talking to Luna and she says that she had a really great time learning with us. And then there's Neville too, and I just know that Dumbledore's up to something, and gosh, there's Mister Malfoy as well now, I don't even know how that's going to go- "
"Fyglia," He chuckled softly, the fond sound whisked away by the wind as soon as it reached her ears. "You really do worry too much."
His mouth was at once hot and cold, the unexpected sensation making her lips tingle. Whenever Harveste kissed her, it never failed to take her breath away. The sensation was as undemanding as the person who engendered it, and yet it evoked a feeling so encompassing that she felt at once surrounded and buoyed and gathered up -
She felt cherished, as only an Addams could make one feel.
"Better?" Harveste chuckled again when she nodded mutely, and they were pressed so close together that she could feel it over her skin. "Let's go back to the others, shall we? Freezing to death is said to be an interesting exercise, but I really do want to taste that rakfisk."
End of Chapter